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  • Any small business owners?

    Not sure how many small business owners we have here...

    My husband and I are looking into what it would take for him to own his own business. He is a master Porsche technician who works on various other European cars as well. He has a huge network of people who will only go to him for work on their cars, etc.

    So, we've been looking into what it would take for him to get started. It will obviously take some time and a lot of work, but it would be so worth him living out his dream of owning his own shop. Not to mention, if he's able to hit the projected revenue marks for this area and that market, we could be financially free before we're 35.

    Any tips for new small business owners like us looking to get started? Anything you would've done differently?

  • #2
    I am not a small business owner (at least not in the way you're referring to it) but my #1 piece of advice would be to do it with as little debt as possible. You don't want to borrow a ton of money to buy and equip a building, put up signage, print forms, buy computers, place ads, etc. If at all possible, start small with your available funds. Maybe rent space in a shared garage rather than establishing his own right away, for example. Make liberal use of social media for getting the word out, as well as reaching out to as many current clients as possible (as long as he has no non-compete agreement with his current employer). Do things on the cheap and scale up as funds permit, not by going deeper and deeper into debt.
    Steve

    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

    Comment


    • #3
      A big problem I see with a lot of start up businesses is doing too much work at home. Being an auto shop, I would suggest renting space and doing all of the work there including the paperwork and accounting. You need to separate your work life from your home life, so when you shut the door at the shop and head home you do your best to clock out mentally. The work will be there when you come back the next morning.

      Don't allow your business to bother you after hours, taking phone calls during family time, etc. Have a separate phone line, they can leave a message.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Fishindude77 View Post
        Don't allow your business to bother you after hours, taking phone calls during family time, etc. Have a separate phone line, they can leave a message.
        This is great advice, and harder than ever to follow in today's hyper-connected age. There are ways, for example, to have multiple phone numbers that all ring to your cell phone. When folks are just starting a business, they often feel they need to be available 24/7 to not risk losing a potential customer or not satisfy an existing one. It's very hard to get out of that mindset.
        Steve

        * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
        * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
        * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

        Comment


        • #5
          ^ harder said than done, especially with a startup. work you dont do, you will have to pay someone else to do, which may not be feasible, depending on how much you're actually making. The startup first year or two is most crucial and the "make it or break it period" where most businesses fail. You should be working much harder and longer during this period. Only once the business stabilizes and you have steady money coming in, do you let your foot off the gas, so to speak.

          I would suggest starting small, if possible, to test the market before going head on into the business. Plan ahead, run projections, know what licenses, insurances, fees, etc you'll need to get setup in your area. hire a good attorney and accountant. make sure you have $$$$$ in case your business starts slow. kinda silly to start a business, then go bankrupt in 3 months. Consider buying out another business if you can get a decent client list and good quality used equipment at a good price.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ~bs View Post
            I would suggest starting small, if possible, to test the market before going head on into the business. Plan ahead, run projections, know what licenses, insurances, fees, etc you'll need to get setup in your area. hire a good attorney and accountant. make sure you have $$$$$ in case your business starts slow. kinda silly to start a business, then go bankrupt in 3 months. Consider buying out another business if you can get a decent client list and good quality used equipment at a good price.
            This is essentially what we are doing. We've done the research for the area, got the information we need to get started, along with insurance information, etc. In Georgia, we have to have a registered agent file all of the business paperwork for us, so we found one that can also provide legal aid and accounting services.

            On top of that, we are considering buying out a local place that would come with the lifts for the cars (which can be costly). It would be included in the buyout. Currently, my husband is renting a bay there and already has a growing number of clients (yay). The next biggest thing will be negotiations.




            As far as leaving our work "at the office" - I have worked from home for four years, so there is always a little bit of an odd work-life balance here. However, he is good about no longer answering any calls after 6 p.m. or before 8 a.m. I wish I had that ability! Haha. I struggle not answering emails or plugging in when I'm supposed to be off.

            Comment


            • #7
              ^

              Sounds like youre off to a good start! Figure out how much you can charge, probably by getting quotes from other mercedes porsche and bmw independents. it's obviously going to be less than dealership, but more than jiffy lube. You just need to figure out what an acceptable bill rate is. also, you need access to genuine parts, so make sure porsche is willing to supply that. also if he's a good mechanic, could think about servicing other vehicle makes and not limiting yourself to boxters and 911s, especially at first when business might be slower.

              Comment


              • #8
                So does your husband have people beyond himself to help him out? One thing to not get caught with your pants down is scalability. There's a peak at which your customer service is at its best, then tapers off dramatically if you don't have enough staff to scale up.

                My advice to you is learn and try to do everything yourself. I do our payroll via Intuit. Very easy once it's set up. I also got a free online mentor to help me walk through business taxes and how to maximize deductions (set up a LLC and then be taxed as S-corp). Also single member 401k is exactly that, single member (so you cannot hire workers who are full time/work more than 1000hrs/year). You are better off with a sep IRA to mitigate more taxes. It's pretty awesome with some of the crazy tax breaks you get(not even talking about deductions). The fact that your "company match" for a single member 401k can be up to 25% of your yearly salary is crazy good..of course not something you would offer to anyone else(hence the inability to hire full time workers).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by amastewa93 View Post
                  Currently, my husband is renting a bay there and already has a growing number of clients (yay).
                  I'm not clear here. If he is renting a bay and has his own clients, isn't it already his business? Or is he working under a larger umbrella company with which he has to share profits?
                  Steve

                  * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                  * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                  * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What a wonderful talent your husband has! There are few businesses where folks would beat a path to your door, but being an honest, expert mechanic specializing in Europeans might just be one of those!

                    I have some ideas but I’m on my iPhone for the next couple days. When I have a keyboard I’ll write some things.

                    You are wise seeking counsel from other small business owners, as they are uniquely qualified to give you a behind-the-curtain view. Having my own business has been the most exhilarating, exhausting. liberating, confining, exciting thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes several of those in one day.
                    How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Having a successful business involves differentiating yourself from all of the rest. If you do as advised and act like your competitors, you will have lots of...COMPETITION!

                      So...I certainly WOULD take calls during odd hours. In fact I would MARKET that. I would be open during odd hours/times too. This will give you CLEAR SEPARATION from the competition. “Here’s our number...call us 24/7/365. We are the only ones in the business who do this.”

                      Call your business “All Hours Auto”, work 70 hour weeks for a couple of years, and you will then not only have more business than you can say grace over, you may well have a franchise opportunity!

                      How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Singuy View Post
                        So does your husband have people beyond himself to help him out? One thing to not get caught with your pants down is scalability. There's a peak at which your customer service is at its best, then tapers off dramatically if you don't have enough staff to scale up.

                        My advice to you is learn and try to do everything yourself. I do our payroll via Intuit. Very easy once it's set up. I also got a free online mentor to help me walk through business taxes and how to maximize deductions (set up a LLC and then be taxed as S-corp). Also single member 401k is exactly that, single member (so you cannot hire workers who are full time/work more than 1000hrs/year). You are better off with a sep IRA to mitigate more taxes. It's pretty awesome with some of the crazy tax breaks you get(not even talking about deductions). The fact that your "company match" for a single member 401k can be up to 25% of your yearly salary is crazy good..of course not something you would offer to anyone else(hence the inability to hire full time workers).
                        Yes - we've met a number of people that would be interested in coming on board after we've got the volume to justify additional staff members. Thankfully, I've been self-employed for about 4 years now, so I've learned a lot of the ins and outs of things being a virtual assistant, among other things (i.e. payroll, etc.).

                        As far as full-time folks - for the most part, mechanics are paid on a flat rate. So, the hours charged for labor they get paid an hourly rate for. For instance, if a job is billed at 7 hours and they make $20/hr flat rate, they get $140 for that job. No one is ever usually considered "full time" unless they are at a larger corporation (i.e. the Porsche dealer).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TexasHusker View Post
                          Having a successful business involves differentiating yourself from all of the rest. If you do as advised and act like your competitors, you will have lots of...COMPETITION!

                          So...I certainly WOULD take calls during odd hours. In fact I would MARKET that. I would be open during odd hours/times too. This will give you CLEAR SEPARATION from the competition. “Here’s our number...call us 24/7/365. We are the only ones in the business who do this.”

                          Call your business “All Hours Auto”, work 70 hour weeks for a couple of years, and you will then not only have more business than you can say grace over, you may well have a franchise opportunity!
                          Haha - funny enough, we live in a high rise condo. My husband has given his cards out to people in the elevator when he notices their key rings. He usually asks, "Oh, what kind of (Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, etc) do you have?" They chat, he gives them a card... and he winds up putting in a battery on Sunday morning when someone's dies... or jumping a car. He makes about $50 a pop for those "on call" situations.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by disneysteve View Post

                            I'm not clear here. If he is renting a bay and has his own clients, isn't it already his business? Or is he working under a larger umbrella company with which he has to share profits?
                            Right - currently, he is working under a larger company and sharing profits. He is an independent contractor right now there.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by amastewa93 View Post

                              Right - currently, he is working under a larger company and sharing profits. He is an independent contractor right now there.
                              Does he currently have a contract with his employer? What's to stop him from cutting ties and continuing to do exactly what he's already doing but for himself? Rent the bay and keep servicing his clients and finding more new ones.
                              Steve

                              * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                              * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                              * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                              Comment

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